Clerk questions elected borough attorney query

Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Kenai Peninsula Borough clerk needs a little more information before giving the green light to a petition seeking to have the borough attorney be elected rather than be appointed by the borough mayor.

On June 8, the Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers filed an initiative petition application asking for the change. If approved, an ordinance providing for an elected borough attorney position with a three-year term of office would be placed on the fall ballot.

Following legal review of the group’s application, borough clerk Sherry Biggs sent a letter to prime sponsor Victoria Pate pointing out some unanswered questions in the proposed ordinance, namely a specific date for the first election and what qualifications would be required of candidates for the attorney position.

Biggs’ letter also cited the omission of requirements for filing a declaration of candidacy for office, and said the ordinance “may present other issues as well upon a more in-depth post-election analysis, if it is approved by the voters.”

On Monday, Biggs said she heard back from Michael McBride, also one of the petition’s sponsors, who said ACT would be amending its petition. Biggs said the proposal is changed significantly enough that she asked for an amended sponsor sheet.

“We will ask our independent (Anchorage) attorney for a quick, final legal review,” Biggs said.

“If everything is satisfactory, my office prepares petition booklets, then (ACT members) go to the streets to gather signatures,” she said.

ACT would need signatures from 1,503 registered voters in order to have the measure placed on the ballot. The number is based on a percentage of registered voters who actually voted in the last regular election.

Biggs said there is still time to have it on the municipal election ballot this fall.

Current borough attorney, Colette Thompson, was named acting borough attorney by Borough Mayor Don Gilman in March 1996, and confirmed as the permanent attorney in October that same year.

ACT is well known for proposing initiatives attempting to limit the borough’s taxing power, and currently has three initiatives pending legal review seeking term limits for borough assembly and school board seats.

Ruby Kime, of Ninilchik, an active member of ACT, has said an elected borough attorney “would feel a greater obligation to respond to the will of the people, rather than to the guy who signs her paycheck.

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